22 Dec 2021 NFL Draft Watch: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
As a part of Expand The Boxscore’s NFL Draft coverage, we will be highlighting the draft prospects from each school for every bowl game. The players featured below will also be included in our Draft Guide, which is set to release shortly after the combine. In today’s column, we will be taking a look at the second bowl of the season, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, featuring the Nevada Wolfpack and Tulane Green Wave.
Nevada vs Tulane
Nevada has quietly put together a solid small-school program out west. Since 2005, they have made 13 bowl games and head coach Jay Norvell has taken the team to the postseason in three out of his four years as the head coach. Unfortunately, all that success has not resulted in a lot of draft picks coming out of Reno, with only two players selected in the last six years – Austin Corbett in 2018 and Joel Bitonio in 2014.
It looks like this year will be more of the same as the Wolfpack do not have any NFL Draft-eligible players in the 2021 class, but quarterback Carson Strong is someone to keep an eye on for 2022. Coincidently, Strong has a very strong arm and at 6’4 and 220 pounds, he has the ideal size for an NFL quarterback.
The gunslinger is only a sophomore, but many draft analysts are already buzzing about his potential, so it will be interesting to see how he develops next year, and that starts on the national stage today.
It has been a tale of two seasons for the Green Wave in 2020. They stumbled out of the gate, losing four out of their first six contests, but finished the year strong, winning four out of five with a 23-point average margin of victory. A big reason for Tulane’s recent success has been the play of their two NFL Draft prospects, Cameron Sample and Patrick Johnson.
Sample is a defensive tackle who wins with athleticism and has been highly productive over the last couple of seasons with six and a half sacks and 13 tackles for loss. During that time frame, he also has five passes defended because when he cannot get to the quarterback, he gets his hands up to affect the passing lanes. The big man will likely be a seventh-round pick or priority free agent, but a couple of big performances in the bowl game and the Senior Bowl could change that.
As for Johnson, he is a more notable prospect who should hear his name called sometime during Day 3 of the NFL Draft. The senior is a physical outside linebacker that shoots gaps quickly and is a sure tackler, allowing him to rack up 35 career tackles for loss. However, he has poor use of hands and struggles to consistently generate pressure as a pass rusher, which is what is holding Johnson’s draft stock back.
- A Bay Area native who has a dysfunctional relationship with the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders.
- Matt played college football and was a recruiting assistant at Division 3 Willamette University, where he received his BA and MBA.
- He has worked in the industry as a journalist, film analyst for PFF, and graduated from the Scouting Academy.